Frank Thomas said the "first thing" he noticed upon seeing the 2014 National Baseball Hall of Fame voting results was Craig Biggio falling 0.2 percent shy of joining him, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine in Cooperstown this July.
Biggio earned 74.8 percent of the BBWAA's Hall of Fame vote despite a 20-year career with Houston in which he rapped out 3,060 hits and amassed 64.9 WAR. That a player whose on-field credentials were never marred by PED accusations until recently — Biggio never tested positive for PEDs and was not named in the Mitchell Report — didn't make the Hall of Fame on his second try may speak greater volumes about how the Steroid Era is viewed by the electorate than anything else.
The 0.2 percent Biggio missed the cut by equated to two votes.
"I was shocked," Thomas told members of the media in a press conference Wednesday at U.S. Cellular Field. "Everyone is watching that thing going, they’re trending and to hear he didn’t get in by two votes — I don’t want to use the word tragic, but that’s a tragic moment for him right now. He was one heck of a player. I didn’t watch him play every day but I know the gamer he was. Last year he was 68 percent, he was 74 today and it looks like he will get into the Hall of Fame in the near future. But that has to be a devastating day for him."
Thomas is right — Biggio seems to be a lock to enter the Hall of Fame on this third appearance on the ballot a year from now. A player who will have a much more difficult time getting into Cooperstown is Jack Morris, who failed to be elected to the Hall of Fame on his 15th and final year on the ballot.
Morris turned into a flashpoint between old-school and new-school analysis, with sabermetric numbers showing Morris wasn't worthy of induction but win totals and the common refrain of "you had to be there" supporting his case. Thomas faced Morris 34 times in his career and hit .333/.529/.667 off him with two home runs, 10 walks and six strikeouts.
While Thomas enjoyed a healthy level of success against Morris, it didn't change his opinion of the right-hander's Hall of Fame case.
"He was just an ultimate gamer and it was sad he didn’t get in today," Thomas said Wednesday. "The last couple of years I spent a lot of time with him at MLB.com. I know how much it meant to him. We’re not going to lose hope that he didn’t make it this year. Hopefully the veteran’s committee can get him, but Jack was definitely a big-game pitcher."